Monday, February 15, 2010

Sink a dink a do

Recently I acquired all the things I needed to tackle a plumbing job I had been putting off for a while - replacing a vintage bathroom sink.  I hate messing with plumbing, but in this case, I had to do it or end up throwing way too much money down the drain (please pardon the pun ;-).

 When we moved into our 1958 rambler, all three bathrooms were pretty much original.  The main bath had a peach/beige/brown//rose/pink sort of color pallete.  The sink and bathtub,matched, but the toilet had been replaced with a different shade of beige.

The sink has been leaking like a sieve from the hot and cold handles.  Unlike more modern sinks, the original  sink had the handles and faucet coming out of the front of the sink instead of being situated on top like all modern sinks, and no local hardware stores carry these parts. Online searches weren't yielding any simple solutions either. An Angieslist plumber had tried to find us replacement stems for the sink but had struck out.    So, for months we had been trying to catch some of the dripping water to use it instead of let it all go down the drain.  The "drool bucket" lifestyle had become a real pain.

Luckily I found a $15 beige sink on craigslist that had the top-mounted faucet and handles but looked appropriate for our bathroom.  It was a little narrower but it had the holes underneath the front so we could continue to use the chrome legs already in the bathroom, and because I took the toilet tank lid with me before I bought the replacement, I knew the sink would at least  match the toilet!

Removing the old sink was fairly easy (cut off water supply below sink, unscrew the hot and cold water lines, and disconnect the trap).  But installing the new sink took some extra work.  Not only was it a little narrower than the other sink, it also sits about 2 inches higher on the wall than the old sink. Changing the wall-mount bracket would have left me with holes showing in the ceramic tiles behind the sink.  The height change created a problem with the two-piece chrome legs. To extend the legs you basically unscrew the two pieces until you get the length you want.  But at the max extension, they were stilltoo  short. I ended up cutting some scrap copper pipe and some steel electrical conduit to fit inside the chrome legs and keep the internal pieces connected for strength.  These extensions let me stretch the legs enough to fit under the sink but not show the extensions where the two parts of the chrome meet.

Then I had to find different chrome trap pieces for under the sink to make up that added height.  In the end, I got it to work.

Not a perfect resolution, but at least the legs fit, the sink doesn't leak, the drool buckets are history, I kept the bathroom looking reasonably original, and best of all I didn't end up spending thousands of dollars gutting the whole bathroom to make fixtures match!  (I'm keeping the old sink in hopes that eventually I'll find the stems I need to put it back in.)  Oh, during my sink searches, I also found a top-mount white sink that is on stand-by in case the white sink in our master bath starts to drool too.  At least now I know what to expect when swapping out another sink.


  1. I think that sink looks great. Nice job. And...the price was right.

  2. Thanks - it's holding up well so far

  3. We're having the same issues with our yellow sink in the Hacienda bathroom, a new (old) yellow sink may be the solution - thanks for the tip!

  4. I know this is late to the game here, but that sink takes a "shelf back" faucet. They are difficult to find because only two or three manufacturers still make them any longer. They are a sister to the "slant back" (what I have in my house.) I had to replace the faucets on mine at one point as well, but I was able to track them down.

    Here is a link to one:

    1. Thanks for the tip Doug, I'll check that out.